Surprising Alaska

Joy Martinello

Surprising Alaska

Joy Martinello

Jan 2013

When thinking about where you’d like to go in 2013, you might pass over Alaska and move on to other ideas. Not so fast! When the opportunity came up for me to go to Alaska, I figured it would be very much like Oregon and Washington, where I call home. Yet when I boarded my ship and set sail on the Inside Passage, it soon became abundantly clear that I had entered a completely different world. I wasn’t prepared for the region’s enormity, scope and vastness; nor for the sheer size of its glaciers, mountains and trees, and cultural richness. I was floored by the intricacy of the tide pools and the majesty of the eagles – they really are enormous! How could a place be so wild and breathtaking? Nothing I’d ever heard about Alaska prepared me for what is really there.

And the whales! My personal experience witnessing the playful breaching of humpback whales is something I will never forget. One afternoon, while the other passengers were out on the ship’s bow with binoculars looking for signs of marine life, I hung back in the lounge and leaned out of one of the windows taking a break from the search. I was thinking to myself, “I wish I could have a more personal experience with whales.” Right then, two giant humpbacks swam out from under the ship and breached right in front of me! Right out the window where only I was looking! I was completely flabbergasted. What an unbelievable spectacle just for me!

When choosing an Alaska trip, you have a range of ship options. If you’re an active person and love kayaking or taking longer hikes, the simpler, more economical Wilderness ships (Wilderness Adventurer, Wilderness Discoverer and Wilderness Explorer) may be for you. If you prefer a bit of luxury and some extra personal attention, let the expedition staff onboard the Safari Explorer, Safari Quest or Safari Endeavour design a program for you with just the right amount of hiking, kayaking and Zodiac exploration. Plus, you’ll enjoy the chef’s amazing daily food and wine selections aboard the Safari ships. If you prefer a scientific focus and you’d love your Alaska trip to be a page right out of National Geographic Magazine, indulge in the “gold standard” of trips to Alaska aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion and Sea Bird. For a truly personal experience, sail aboard Pacific Catalyst, a family-owned, 12 passenger wooden boat that cuts its engines at night to hear the wondrous sounds of whales feeding and eagles calling. Any of the ships we offer will provide you with a fantastic experience of the region.

Whether you’re watching glaciers calve with a thunderous boom in Glacier Bay National Park, or listening to a wise elder from the Tlingit tribe talk about how every member of their community is considered precious and highly valued, you will be surprised again and again by the depth of your experience in Alaska. This is a destination uniquely perfect for small ship exploration.  I hope you’ll put Alaska on your list for 2013 because this vast, rugged, supremely wild place will reach out to you and change the way you see life.